Lorenzo edges Marquez in Mugello MotoGP thriller as Rossi retires

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Jorge Lorenzo extended his lead at the top of the MotoGP drivers’ championship on Sunday by claiming a narrow victory in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.

Lorenzo started the race from fifth on the grid, but a good start took him into the lead on the first lap ahead of pole-sitter and Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi.

Rossi scored his first pole position on home soil since 2008 on Saturday and hoped to give the partisan crowd something to cheer for in the race.

However, an engine failure on lap nine when battling for the lead with Lorenzo denied Rossi the chance to do so, resigning him to a second retirement of the season.

The mantle was duly picked up by Honda rider Marc Marquez, who went wheel-to-wheel with Lorenzo for the remainder of the race, resulting in a last-lap drag race to the checkered flag.

The grunt of Lorenzo’s Yamaha engine proved to be enough as he edged out Marquez by just 0.019 seconds, scoring his third victory of the season in the process.

Lorenzo revealed after the race that when Marquez passed him on the last lap, he nearly gave up on winning before remembering an old move he had seen before.

“The pace wasn’t very fast so I couldn’t escape like I wanted,” Lorenzo said after the race.

“Marquez stayed strong all the race and I used a lot of energy to go at the front in the race. I thought Marquez would have more energy at the end when he passed me.

“I thought to stay in second place and take the points, but finally I remembered a little bit 2005 when I was in 250 [CC] and I passed De Angelis in this corner in the last chicane for second and I thought maybe I could do the same.

“I tried a crazy move and it was OK but I was going right in the second corner of the chicane. Finally my bike was quite fast and I could get past Marc for an unexpected victory.”

Andrea Iannone capped off his home race weekend by finishing on the podium in third, beating Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso, the latter ending a three-race streak of retirements.

Maverick Vinales dropped back early on before fighting back to finish sixth for Suzuki ahead of Bradley Smith and Danilo Petrucci, while Aleix Espargaro and Michele Pirro rounded out the top 10.

The MotoGP season continues in two weeks’ time at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.

Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.